Consort of Jesus and Apostle to the Apostles
For too many centuries Mary Magdalene has been presented in literature and art as a sinner and a ‘Penitent Whore’. Having read three remarkable books by the late Laurence Gardner, Bloodline of the Holy Grail, The Magdalene Legacy and The Grail Enigma, I realize that naming her a “sinner guilty of all vices”, as Pope Gregory the Great did in AD 591 has been a malicious calumny or slanderous projection onto her that has survived until the present day when it can be revealed as a deliberate attempt to vilify her. Gardner believes that this slander was perpetuated by the Catholic Church in order to conceal the fact of her marriage to Jesus and her exalted role as “the Apostle to the Apostles”. see www.graal.co.uk for the work of Laurence Gardner and also talks on YouTube.
An astonishing document has recently come to light which confirms the very close relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. In 2010 The Gospel of the Beloved Companion: The Complete Gospel of Mary Magdalene, has been translated with a commentary by Jehanne de Quillan and published by Editions Athara, Foix. It is believed to have been brought from Alexandria to the Languedoc in the early to middle part of the first century and to have been translated into Occitan, the language of the Languedoc, in the early part of the twelfth century. Since then it has been closely guarded and passed from hand to hand, generation to generation until the present time. It fills in the passages that are missing from the Gospel of Mary that is already known and that is one of the texts in the Nag Hammadi Library. It makes it clear that Mary Magdalene was the "Beloved Companion" and also, when this Gospel is compared word for word with the Gospel of John, that this Gospel was also originally written by her and redacted later.
The Vatican has not disclosed the documents it has in its archives which bear witness to her marriage and the children she had with Jesus (the Desposyni or ‘Heirs of the Lord’ Chart) but they have been accessed by researchers such as Laurence Gardner. The thirteenth century Albigensian Crusade, initiated by Pope Innocent 111 was designed to wipe out all vestiges of the Cathar Church of the Holy Spirit whose presiding image was Divine Wisdom or Sophia and which had kept alive the distant memory of Mary’s marriage to Jesus and her work as an Apostle in Provence and the Languedoc as well as some precious texts from that earlier time, including, I believe, The Gospel of the Beloved Companion.
Mary Magdalene travelled and taught with Jesus, anointed him twice at two different stages of her marriage to him, and bore his three children. She was a loyal companion to his mother and sister. She was present at the foot of the cross with Jesus’ mother and sisters; as his wife she went to anoint Jesus’ body in the sepulchre. Only three women would have been allowed in the sepulchre to anoint his body after the crucifixion: his mother, his sister or his wife. Mary was the only one of his close followers to speak with him in the sepulchre garden. It is obvious that she was there because she had gone to the sepulchre to anoint Jesus' body with specific oils and herbs. Not finding him there, she had gone into the garden where, to her astonishment and delight, she saw him. She was documented as the consort (koinonôs) of Jesus in the Gospel of Philip. She was recognized as ‘the Apostle of Apostles’, the woman whom Jesus kissed and called his ‘blessed one’. She was described as “The woman who knew the All’ and the woman whom Jesus loved. According to Gardner, the ‘marriage’ at Cana describes the celebration of their betrothal, an initial ceremony that led in stages to the final ‘second marriage’ when Mary had already conceived their first child.
Having read these books and marvelled at the extraordinary commitment and erudition of Laurence Gardner to making these facts known (and many others besides), there is no doubt in my mind that Mary Magdalene (Mary of Bethany) was married to Jesus. She left Palestine for Provence in 44 AD, 11 years after the crucifixion with two of their children (giving birth to a third one there) and taught there for 20 years. She was buried in a chapel at the foot of the Ste. Baume mountain in Provence. For many centuries kings and popes travelled there to worship at her shrine.
Imagine what a radical difference it would have made to the way women were regarded and treated if the marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene had been known and celebrated right at the inception of Christianity and if women had, like Mary, been welcomed as healers, teachers, priests and deacons. All that nonsense about women being the secondary and inferior gender would have been avoided, not to mention the appalling misogyny present within the Christian Churches and the resistance to ordaining women as priests and bishops — a resistance still present in the Catholic Church. We might have been spared the phobic fear of women demonstrated by the early Christian Fathers and even St. Augustine’s deeply offensive Doctrine of Original Sin which carried the inference that sex is sinful because original sin was transmitted through the sexual act. The reverberations of this Doctrine are with us still today as is the control exercised over women’s lives by the Catholic Church’s opposition to contraception.
The painting shown above is titled ‘Mary Magdalene preaching in Provence’ by the Master of the Magdalene 1510.
On this page, I have added in other material from the four talks I gave on the Quest for the Holy Grail in September 2016. These can be accessed in another part of my website. http://www.annebaring.com/anbar54_grail.html
1. What was the formation of Jesus as a child and where does his teaching derive from? There were three main philosophical groups in Palestine in the first century: the Pharisees, the Saducees and the Essenes. The Essenes orginated in Egypt and were said to have been founded by Enoch in the days before the Great Flood. At the time Jesus lived they had established many communities both in Egypt and in Palestine and even as far away as Marseilles in France.
Jesus was born in 7 BC. He was brought up with his parents, brothers and sisters in an Essene community. The Essenes were known as “The Keepers of the Covenant”. The Sermon on the Mount was based on teachings from the Essene Community, whether at Qumrâm or elsewhere. Jesus’ eight Beatitudes originated with the Beatitudes Wisdom scroll of Qumrâm.
(see at the end of this article the four Essene Gospels translated and published by Edward Szekeley and the website www.essene.com) where you can also find them).
According to Gardner, Jesus was not born in Bethlehem and was not the son of a poor carpenter but the son of a man who was the head of the Davidic line – known as ‘the true vine’ descending from King David. The title ‘Joseph of Arimathea’ was an honorary dynastic title, connected with his direct descent from King David and held by the second son in this dynastic family. It was held by Jesus’ father and after his death by Jesus’ brother, James the Just who became leader of the Nazarenes (the name of the group of followers that Jesus led). Jesus’ father was a prosperous and experienced trader in copper and tin and travelled widely over the Mediterranean area and as far east as Kashmir and to the flourishing port of Narbonne in France, as well as to Cornwall and Glastonbury in Somerset.
In his teenage years, Jesus may have been sent to India to study in the great Buddhist universities there, returning in AD 25. Here he would have been taught methods of meditation and healing. (source: Barry Page, The Historical Jesus Found) Alternatively, he may have been sent to an Essene community in Egypt for the same purpose.
Jesus began his Ministry in AD 29. The group of disciples and followers of Jesus were called Nazarenes and they derived their teaching and practices from the Essenes at Qumrâm.
Jesus called his apostles ‘Fishers of Men’. Much later, in the Grail Legends, the keepers of the Grail were called “The Fisher Kings”. http://www.annebaring.com/anbar54_grail.html#grail_3
(Laurence Gardner has a great deal to say about these Kings in his Bloodline of the Holy Grail).
The vine was the symbol of the linear descent from King David. Jesus said, “I am the true vine”. It later became the symbol of the Nazarenes.
2. What was the background of Mary Magdalene?
Mary Magdalene was of Syrian descent. Her family name was Mary of Bethany, after the village where her family home was. She was a Syrian priestess in her own right by the time she married Jesus. Her father was of Syrian royal ancestry which is why the marriage at Bethany (with the double anointing of Jesus) had a Syrian character. Her mother was also of royal descent from the house of the Hasmodaean Maccabees.
‘Magdalene’ was an honorary title, like that of Joseph of Arimathea, not a location in Palestine. The word Magdalene meant ‘Watch Tower’.
Her marriage to Jesus in AD 33 was a dynastic marriage contract, uniting two important dynastic family lines.
3. What were the stages of the Jewish dynastic betrothal and marriage ceremony between Mary Magdalene and Jesus?
Gardner says that in a dynastic marriage such as that of Mary and Jesus there were 4 stages:
1. First Stage: The Betrothal ceremony in June and feast of celebration – this was recorded as the ‘marriage’ at Cana in the Gospel of John – it took place in June AD 30.
2. Second Stage: 3 months after this there was a First Marriage ceremony in September AD 30. This was the occasion when Mary anointed Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. She wept because she would be parted from him for three months.
3. Third Stage: Sexual relations could only take place in December in order that a child conceived in that month would be born in September of the following year – the month of Atonement. If the bride did not conceive or miscarried, sexual relations were deferred until the following December.
4. Fourth Stage: Once she had conceived and was three months pregnant, a Second Marriage Ceremony took place in the month of March. The final stage of Jesus’ marriage to Mary of Bethany took place a week before the crucifixion in March AD 33 when Mary was three months pregnant with her first child.
The Fourth Stage was the time that Mary anointed Jesus’ head with spikenard, a very costly and fragrant essence or oil derived from a root that was found high in the Himalayas. This anointing was the express privilege of a Messianic bride and performed only at the time of the First or Second Marriage. Only as the wife of Jesus and a priestess in her own right could MM have anointed Jesus’ feet and head with the sacred oil. This was a Syrian ritual that originated in the Sumerian sacred marriage of Inanna and Dumuzi and was enshrined in the Song of Songs. Mary was associated with the Bride in the Song of Songs. According to Gardner, with this second anointing Jesus could hold the title of ‘Messiah’.
Mary gave birth to a daughter in AD 33.
She gave birth to a son in AD 37, possibly at an Essene community in Heliopolis in Egypt. He was called Jesus or Yeshua after his father.
In December AD 43 Mary conceived for the third time. In the following year AD 44 she travelled to France, landing at the port of Marseilles. She gave birth to her second son and third child after she reached France, calling him Josephus. He was educated at a Druid or Essene university in Marseilles. (The implication of this third birth is that Jesus did not die on the cross but was taken down from it after a few hours and revived by Essene therapeuts. Laurence Gardner explores this conclusion in his books, The Magdalene Legacy. see below for further details)
The word Desposyni means “Heirs of the Lord” – the sons and bloodline descendents of Jesus and Mary Magdalene and also those of James the Just, the brother of Jesus.
4. Are there other indications in the Gospels that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married?
Bishop Spong writes: “The record was suppressed, but not annihilated, by the Christian Church … Yet so real was this relationship that hints of it are scattered all over the Gospels.”
“The fact of their marriage is revealed by the scene at the sepulchre when Mary spoke to Jesus and he to her as well as by the two annointings of Jesus. The Gospels differ in their account of the women who went to the tomb of Jesus but all four agree that Mary Magdalene was present”
“The female companions of Jesus are cited on only seven occasions. In 6 of these MM is the first woman named. The 7th list puts Jesus’ mother first. This was the list of the group of women including MM and Jesus’ mother and sisters who are named in the Gospel of John as being at the foot of the cross. If MM did write or contribute to this Gospel, (see below) it would have been natural for her to put her mother-in-law first.” (Quoted from p. 184 The Grail Enigma).
Bishop Spong asks three relevant questions (see Gardner, The Grail Enigma):
1. How does MM become the senior of this group of wives (the Apostle of Apostles), her name always first in the lists, if she is not the consort of Jesus? (1 Corinthians 1:5)
2. As Jesus’ wife she would naturally have been there in order to anoint his body. Why would she presume the wifely duty of anointing Jesus if she were not his wife?
3. How would she have the right to claim the body of Jesus for taking away (as in John 20:15) if she were not his next of kin?
A great wrong was done to Mary Magdalene and to Jesus by the Catholic Church in the fourth century Council of Nicaea (AD 325) which moved heaven and earth to wipe out all trace of her marriage to Jesus and the existence of their children in order to establish and maintain the belief that he was the celibate Son of God, immaculately conceived by Mary, his virgin mother and the Holy Ghost.
5. How is the close relationship of Jesus and Mary and Mary’s role as an Apostle revealed in the Gnostic Gospels found at Nag Hammadi?
The Gnostic Gospels confirm their married state beyond a shadow of a doubt. For more details on Mary in the Gnostic Gospels see http://www.annebaring.com/anbar54_grail.html#grail_2
The Dialogue of the Saviour, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Thomas all speak of Mary Magdalene as the close companion (consort) of Jesus. The Greek word Koinonôs has the explicit meaning of consort and refers to a wedded and intimate sexual partner. It would have also signified a recognized dynastic wife. The translation of this word as the ‘companion of Jesus’ in the Gospel of Philip in the Nag Hammadi Library does not give the true picture of their relationship. (On p. 138 NHL the word koinonôs is given as ‘companion’ in the translation by Wesley W. Isenberg but translated as ‘consort’ by Laurence Gardner).
1. The Dialogue of the Saviour portrays Mary Magdalene as the apostle who excels all the others and as “The woman who knew the All.”
2. The Gospel of Philip (p 117 and 130 The Grail Enigma)
“There were three who always walked with the Lord …his sister and his mother and his consort (koinonôs) were each a Mary. (These three women were at the crucifixion and also at the sepulchre).
And the consort (koinonôs) of the Saviour is Mary Magdalene. Christ loved her more than the disciples and used to kiss her often on her mouth. The rest of the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval. They said to him, “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The Saviour answered and said to them, “Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness.”
3. In an extraordinary manuscript called the Pistis Sophia there was a lengthy dialogue between Jesus and MM that took place (according to Gardner) in AD 44, the year she left for Provence, pregnant with her third child (another proof that he survived the crucifixion). It is almost entirely a dialogue between Jesus and Mary where Mary questions Jesus about the things she wishes to know and Jesus answers her. Perhaps this was the record of their last conversation together before they parted when she left for France.
In this text her name is mentioned 150 times whereas Peter’s is only mentioned 14 times. Jesus addresses her as “Thou pure in Light”.
Peter intervenes, saying that he can’t understand why Jesus is paying attention to what Mary is saying. In one place she says: “I am afraid of Peter, for he threatens me and he hates our race.” (Peter in other Gospels is several times shown resenting Mary’s close relationship with Jesus and even her presence. In the Gospel of Thomas Peter says, “Let Mary leave us for women are not worthy of life.”)
Jesus, on hearing MM’s interpretation of the Mysteries of Sophia, says, “Thou are she whose heart is more directed at the Kingdom of Heaven than all thy brothers.”
4. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (p. 119, The Magdalene Legacy)
This Gospel, first published in 1955, has about 10 vital pages missing and begins at chapter 4 of the original. It relates to the period after Jesus’ ‘resurrection’ or resuscitation when the apostles were distressed and weeping, not yet knowing what they were supposed to do. Mary Magdalene, who had spoken with Jesus in the sepulchre garden was able to tell them to stop weeping and to take courage, for “His grace will be with you and will protect you”. Then Peter asks her to tell them all she could remember of what Jesus said to her alone – everything you know and we do not. Then Mary tells them what Jesus said to her.
There is an important section missing here where Mary tells the others what Jesus has taught her but I haven't yet had time to put this in.
(The best translation and also commentary on this Gospel is by Jean-Yves Leloup, translated by Joseph Rowe. See also Cynthia Bourgeault, The Meaning of Mary Magdalene).
Then Andrew began to speak, and said to his brothers: “Tell me, what do you think of these things she (Mary) has been telling us? As for me, I do not believe that the Teacher would speak like this. These ideas are too different from those we have known.”
And Peter added: “How is it possible that the Teacher talked in this manner with a woman about secrets of which we ourselves are ignorant? Must we change our customs, and listen to this woman? Did he really choose her, and prefer her to us?”
Then Mary wept and said to Peter, “My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I thought this up myself in my heart or that I am lying about the Saviour?”
Levi answered and said to Peter, “Peter, you have always been hot-tempered. Now I see you arguing with the woman as if you were enemies. But if the Saviour made her worthy, who are you, indeed, to reject her? Surely the Saviour knows her well enough. That is why he loved her more than us. Rather, let us be ashamed and put on the perfect man and separate as he commanded us and preach the gospel, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Saviour said.”
6. Did Jesus survive the crucifixion?
The Gospel of St. Matthew is the only one to mention that before Jesus was brought before Pilate his wife Claudia Procula sent a message to him, saying that she had had a troubling dream and that he must not harm Jesus. But her words were unable to save Jesus. New evidence from France suggests that Mary of Bethany was a close friend of Claudia Procula who was a convert to the teaching of Jesus and explains why she intervened with Pilate on behalf of Jesus. (La Tombe Perdu by Christian Doumergue)
The Crucifixion took place in March AD 33 on a Friday. Although this is obviously hugely controversial, not to say heretical, Jesus might have survived it because, according to Laurence Gardner, he was taken down from the cross after his brother James (now holding the title ‘the Joseph of Arimathea’) asked permission to do this from Pontius Pilate. Pilate agreed to the change of procedure from the Roman crucifixion to the alternative Jewish custom of burial alive. Jesus was given a drug on a sponge to make him appear dead (unconscious) and was taken down from the cross after five or six hours by James and Nicodemus, a close family friend. James asked Pilate’s permission to bury Jesus in the family sepulchre, which was granted. He was taken to the family sepulchre and his wounds secretly attended to by Essene healers. The next day was Saturday, the Sabbath, when no-one would have approached the sepulchre so there was a window in which they could attend to Jesus.
(see Gardner, Appendix 2 in The Magdalene Legacy for the trial and crucifixion of Jesus and the two others crucified with him).
Jesus was age 40 at the time of the crucifixion. Mary Magdalene was three months pregnant with her first child. In September AD 33 she gave birth to a daughter Tamar –‘the Sarah’. Celibacy was imposed for three years according to the rules of a dynastic marriage.
AD 37 September Mary gave birth to her second child and first son called Jesus after his father. (According to Barry Page, The Historical Jesus Found) this birth took place in an Essene community in Heliopolis, Egypt).
In AD 44 MM and Jesus went their separate ways, she to France and he to pursue his mission in Galatea and, possibly, India and Kashmir (according to Barry Page, The Historical Jesus Found). Both Jesus and MM were considered to be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. Jesus appointed his brother James as the new head of the Nazarenes. He appointed Mary Magdalene above Peter as the leader of the Nazarene mission. It is not known whether Jesus later rejoined MM in Provence.
Many of the male followers of Jesus refused to accept Mary Magdalene as their leader. Mary Magdalene, together with James the Just, Jesus’ brother, was the rightful successor to Jesus. She established The Order of the Blue Rose for those followers of Jesus and herself who remained faithful to the Nazarene Religion of the Essene Way that she and Jesus had taught. She established the Order in Palestine shortly after the crucifixion, then in 44 AD travelled to France where she gave birth to her third child and second son whom she named Josephus. Blue is the colour associated with Sophia and Divine Wisdom.
Following the pattern established by Jesus and his brother, James the Just, the Nazarenes in the second century did not organise themselves on a hierarchical model like the Church of Rome and did not accept the hierarchy of that Church from the time it was established there.
They took their teaching and apostolic descent, not from Peter but from James the Just, the brother of Jesus. They shared their wealth with each other.
They celebrated God as both Mother and Father. (see the Books of the Essenes)
They held that men and women were equal and both could hold the position of teacher, healer, priest and deacon. The Jewish establishment and the Catholic Church both forbade these roles for women: men performed the rites; women listened in silence.
They did not believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus or that Jesus was the Son of God or that he had been resurrected from the dead in a physical body. They knew that he had survived the crucifixion because he was teaching after it and conceived two sons after it with MM. Resurrection had the meaning of “Awakening” to the true life .
They were later assimilated to the various Gnostic groups that spread eastwards as far as China and westwards into Europe, ultimately reaching Bulgaria, Italy, France and Germany.
7. Could the Gospel of John have been written by Mary Magdalene with the help of Lazarus?
The Gospel of John is distinctly Nazarene in character. It reads like an eye-witness account of Jesus’ Ministry. The Gospel of John is the only one to describe Jesus as the Light of the World, the True Vine, the Word of God. It is the most poetic of the Gospels. Concentrates on Jesus’ Ministry in Judaea. It could originally have been the first Gospel written and re-worked much later since it is thought to be the last Gospel, appearing around AD 100.
Mary Magdalene may have been the co-author with the Apostle Philip and Lazarus, who went to France with her in AD 44. Lazarus was Jesus’ brother-in-law, married to Jesus’ sister, Mary Salome. Both Lazarus and Philip would have been the eye-witness of the details of Jesus’ Ministry chronicled in this Gospel which is the only one to describe three events:
- the wedding feast at Cana
- the raising of Lazarus after his 4 days’ ‘death’(this, according to Laurence Gardner, was deliberately cut out of the Gospel of Mark in order to conceal the fact of Jesus marriage to MM).
- the meeting of Jesus and Mary Magdalene in the sepulchre garden after his return to life (resurrection)
Gardner suggests this Gospel was written by Mary Magdalene with the assistance of the witnessing experience of Lazarus, who accompanied her on her journey to Provence and stayed there with her until her death and was later buried in the same chapel as she was. “John’s is the only Gospel to make it perfectly clear that the two anointings mentioned in this Gospel were conducted by the same woman and must have been written by that woman herself. Also, only she would have known about an intimate conversation in the garden with Jesus. No one else was present to hear it. Jesus didn’t write it so it must have been Mary Magdalene who did.” (p. 184 The Grail Enigma) This has been made even more clear since the publication by Jehanne de Quillan, of The Gospel of the Beloved Companion,The Complete Gospel of Mary Magdalene when this is compared with the Gospel of John.
The words Jesus spoke to her might have been more on the lines of “Do not cling to me as my wounds are not yet healed” than “I am not yet ascended to My Father.”
8. Why did Mary leave for France?
In AD 44 Herod Agrippa 1 was assassinated by poisoning and this was blamed on the Nazarenes and Simon Zelotes (Lazarus) who were in great danger. Mary appealed to his young successor Herod-Agrippa 11 (had been tutored by St. Paul) for sanctuary. He gave her permission to settle in the area of France owned by his family, south of Vienne.
In 44 AD, shortly after the meeting of Jesus, Mary and the Apostles that was described in the Pistis Sophia took place, Jesus and Mary parted, she going to France and he to Galatea and possibly India and Kashmir. (see Barry Page for details of this mission) It is not known whether they met again. But it is known that Mary sailed to Marseilles with her daughter and son and that she was pregnant with her third child and second son when they arrived in Marseilles and that she gave birth to him in Provence, naming him Josephes.
Lazarus and the Apostle Philip sailed with her, also her sister Martha, and Mary Salome, Jesus’ sister, who was married to Lazarus. Other sisters of Jesus were also with them.
It is highly likely that in 44 AD when she left Palestine, Mary Magdalene took with her to France precious texts relating to the teachings that she and Jesus shared with a close group of disciples.
Lazarus became the bishop of Marseilles. Martha was buried in Tarascon. In AD 62, they were joined by Jesus’ brother James the Just who was forced to leave Jerusalem to avoid being killed by the Sanhedrin (stoning to death).
James (the new Joseph of Arimathea) went on to Glastonbury in AD 64, taking with him Mary’s oldest son, also named Jesus. The stone there with the names ‘Jesus Mary’ are in memory of Jesus, their brother-in-law and father and Mary Magdalene (their sister-in-law and mother) who had died in AD 63, not Mary, Jesus’ mother. James was later martyred in England and before his death asked for his remains to be sent to join Mary’s in the chapel of the Ste. Baume).
Mary Magdalene taught for nearly 20 years in Provence and in the Languedoc and was widely known and adored in that part of France. Towards the end of her life she is said to have withdrawn to a cave on the Ste. Baume mountain in Provence and was buried by Lazarus in a chapel at the foot of it. The date of her death AD 63, was recorded in the Vatican Desposnyi genealogy presented to Pope Sylvester 1 in 318 AD and is in the Vatican archives. She was sixty when she died. Lazarus’ remains were also deposited in this chapel at Ste. Baume. (The church records in the city of Lyon state that Lazarus was in Gaul (Provence) with Mary Magdalene and Martha and became the first bishop of Marseilles).
Mary’s relics were kept at this chapel at the foot of the Ste. Baume mountain in Provence, guarded for a thousand years by Cassionite monks. At the time of the Saracen invasions in 710, her body was removed from her sarcophagus and put into that of a St. Sidonia, together with a document by the monks saying what they had done to preserve her remains from being desecrated. In 1279 this sarcophagus was opened and her bones were discovered. Her skull was encased in a magnificent gold jewelled head and her bones put in a separate casket in the chapel. Many kings and popes visited the chapel over the centuries. The chapel was probably the most sacred and venerated place in France.
Mary herself was identified with the Holy Balm after which the mountain of the Ste. Baume had been named. The balm was a referenced to the precious oil with which she had anointed Jesus' feet and head. But in a mystical sense, her balm was the Light of the Holy Vessel - the Sangraal, the Light of Sophia or Divine Wisdom.
In 1059 a church was dedicated to Mary Magdalene in the town of Rennes-le-Chateau in the Languedoc. There is a village called Les Labadous, near Rennes-le-Chateau where Mary Magdalene was believed to have lived. There are many local legends about her. There was an Essene community there. In 1096, the year of the First Crusade, the great Basilica at Vézelay, the other central shrine in her memory, began to be built.
Her memory was honoured by the Knights Templar who built the great cathedrals in her honour and called her Notre Dame (also the title of the Virgin Mary). There is a window in Chartres specifically dedicated to her. The Black Madonnas everywhere represent her identification with Sophia (Divine Wisdom) and possibly with the goddess Isis who had many shrines in France. She was the patron of the Order of the Knights Templar established by St. Bernard.
It is possible that the Black Madonna was the symbol of this secret Wisdom teaching carried by Mary Magdalene to France which had to go underground after the vicious fourth century repression of the Gnostics under the Emperor Theodosius which was particularly harsh in the town of Lyon, in France. I think the exoteric teaching of the Catholic Church may have been carried by the image of the Virgin Mary in the great Cathedrals of France and the hidden Wisdom teaching of Mary Magdalene by the image of the Black Madonna. The great rose windows in Chartres Cathedral for example, may have represented both the exoteric and esoteric traditions.
According to Gardner, Black Madonna veneration started from a town called Ferrières in the Languedoc in AD 44, the year that Mary landed in France. By the sixteenth century, there were 400 of these statues in France.
Mary Magdalene was associated with the Holy Spirit or Divine Wisdom of Sophia who at the Creation breathed upon the waters and brought Light into the world (Genesis).
She was also associated with the royal bride of the Song of Songs and beyond that with the sacred marriage or hieros gamos descending from Sumer and the sacred marriage of Inanna and Dumuzi. (see The Myth of the Goddess, chapter 5)
St. Bernard in Sermon 57 of his Sermons on the Canticles refers to Mary Magdalene as the bride of Christ.
The troubadours of Provence referred to Mary Magdalene as the “Grail of the World” and addressed her as “Notre Dame”.
The Cathars, whose presiding image of their Church of the Holy Spirit (founded in 1157 in the Languedoc) was Sophia or Divine Wisdom, regarded her as the bride of Christ.
see Talk 4 http://www.annebaring.com/anbar54_grail.html
The archival records of Provence reveal that it was believed in the Middle Ages that “Mary Magdalene” was the wife of Christ. (Gardner)
The Dominican annals in Rome reveal the same thing. (Gardner)
Click here to see article by Veronica Goodchild on
The Magdalene Mysteries and the Path of the Blue Rose
9. What was the role of the Catholic Church in the fourth century in altering the facts of Jesus life and mission?
The Christianity we know was not established because of Jesus but inspite of him (Gardner). The image of Jesus as the Son of God, born of a virgin by the Holy Ghost was created in AD 325 at the Council of Nicaea. The Nicene Creed still recited in Christian Churches today was defined by that Council. At the subsequent important Council of Ephesus in 431 Jesus’ mother Mary was declared God-bearer or Theotokos which meant that Jesus had to be immaculately conceived. Evidence of Jesus having brothers and sisters was at this time expunged from the record.
There were 364 years between the crucifixion of Jesus and the final selection of canonical texts by the powerful bishop Athanasius of Alexandria in AD 397 at the most famous of the Councils of Carthage in North Africa. Only 27 documents were approved by this Council. Many others, including the Gospel of Thomas, which is known to have existed in Syriac or Aramaic in the second half of the first century, were excluded but are now accessible through the recovered Nag Hammadi texts. The four we know were chosen by the bishops. These four were only finally approved in 1547 at the Council of Trent!
The Catholic Church in the fourth and fifth centuries created the myth of Jesus as the celibate Son of God who had no brothers or sisters and a mother who gave birth to him by Immaculate Conception through the Holy Ghost. It altered some of the Gospels to accord with this view of Jesus and, following St. Paul, to present his sacrificial death on the cross as a vicarious atonement for the sins of humanity. This gave it enormous power over a mostly illiterate population of believers who were told that their only access to salvation was through belonging to the Church.
Many of the original Nazarene (Essene) teachings of Jesus and his followers were subverted or overridden by the Church, which selected and edited documents which promoted its view.
Those documents excluded anything that might uphold the status of women in the church or the community. 12 verses were added to the Gospel of Mark in the 4th century with similar additions made to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Certain original passages at the end of the Gospel of Mark describing the raising of Lazarus were deleted. These would have clarified the status of Jesus and Mary as man and wife.
By this strategy, the status of Mary Magdalene was diminished, along with the relevance of her children and Jesus’ brother James and their Nazarene movement. (p. 130)
The original Nazarene teaching of Jesus was obscured by the doctrines of the Catholic Church, particularly by St. Augustine’s Doctrine of Original Sin that passed into Church law at another Council of Carthage in AD 418.
The Role of St. Paul
The authentic letters of Paul appear around 40-50 AD. Some are thought to have been forgeries.
Paul was the great myth maker, drawing on material from Greek, Egyptian and Persian (Mithraic) Mystery traditions about a Son of God, resurrection and virgin birth. He transformed an oral Jesus movement into written doctrine. He gave Jesus the title of Christ and Son of God.
He promoted the idea of a future kingdom in heaven for those belonging to the Christian community.
And the idea of vicarious atonement – that Jesus died a sacrificial death to redeem the sins of humanity.
Paul emphasised the imminent return of Jesus to establish the Kingdom of God.
He was the origin of the Last Supper Story. This may have been drawn from a Mithraic ceremony where the congregation consumed the body and blood of Mithras, symbolised by bread and wine, before his ascension into heaven. (Tarsus, where Paul lived, was a site of Mithraic worship).
The Nazarene and later Gnostic groups opposed the messianic teaching of Paul. Jesus’ brother James the Just in particular, strongly objected to it. They did not claim that Jesus’ death was an atonement for the sins of humanity.
They faced increasing pressure and later persecution from the Church in Rome. In addition, all Christians, whether Nazarene, Gnostic or Roman Church groups faced horrific persecution from some of the Roman Emperors. The Nazarene and Gnostic groups spread westwards into Bulgaria, Italy and France, and through Asia as far as China. They may have transmitted their basic beliefs to the Bogomils of Bulgaria and Cathars in France and Italy since they are so similar. St. Francis may have been influenced by the Cathar teachings as his teaching so closely resembles theirs.
Christianity from the fourth century was no longer a way of life based on the teachings of Jesus; it had become an institutionalised hierarchical religion governed by the doctrines of the Church in Rome that was based on the apostolic succession from the Apostle Peter who was martyred in Rome.
All trace of women’s former role as bishops, deacons, teachers and healers in spreading the Nazarene teachings of early Christianity was deliberately erased, although the letters of St. Paul do refer to specific women who helped him. This erasure was effected because acknowledging the role of women as disciples and Mary Magdalene as an apostle would have undermined the apostolic succession from Peter. If women had access to ecclesiastical influence this would have upset the tenuous nature of the male apostolic succession. It followed from this that priests had to be celibate and have nothing to do with women. It is only very recently that women have been accepted as bishops by the Anglican Church. The Catholic Church still maintains that Jesus had no women apostles and that women cannot be priests and bishops. But in view of the above this position is no longer tenable.
On the 2/11/16 an article in the New York Times announced that Pope Francis had published a letter giving the reason why the Catholic Church “Affirms Ban on Female Priests.” The letter said that “ordaining women was not possible because Jesus chose only men as his apostles.” The close relationship of Mary Magdalene to Jesus and her legendary teaching as an apostle in France belies this statement.
Ultimately this policy of exclusion of women led to the rule of celibacy for the Catholic clergy, to the doctrine of Papal infallibility and the Virgin’s own Immaculate Conception in the 19th century.
The Church in the fourth century also changed the gender of the Holy Spirit which, according to the Gospel of the Nazarenes, was the feminine aspect of the Divine, known to the Greeks as Sophia (Divine Wisdom) and to the Jews as the Shekinah. According to this Gospel, this feminine aspect of the Divine overshadowed and spoke to Jesus at his baptism saying, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” From AD 325 at the Council of Nicaea, the Holy Spirit became one aspect of the male Trinity and Divine Wisdom (previously associated with Sophia) was assimilated to Christ as the Logos. (For the details of the influence of the gender endings of nouns in translations of the word for Holy Spirit in Hebrew, Greek and Latin, see The Myth of the Goddess pp. 612-630).
The word Desposyni means “Heirs of the Lord” – the sons and bloodline descendents of Jesus and Mary Magdalene and also James the Just, the brother of Jesus.
There is a chart in the Vatican archives that was handed to Pope Sylvester 1 in AD 318 by the Desposyni or lawful descendents of Jesus when they visited him to assert their right to the bishoprics they held. One was the bishop of Jerusalem. The Pope kept the chart which is in the Vatican Archives and dismissed these men. Since Sylvester was Pope at the time of Constantine and presided over the Council of Nicaea in AD 325, there wasn’t much he could do other than obey the wishes of the Emperor who knew himself to be a descendent (through his mother) of the Desposyni line.
The Benedictine and Dominican Monastic Orders kept alive the various early accounts of Mary’s life and teaching in Provence. If we rely on Church records alone, we would know almost nothing about these but fortunately, we have the others. MM was patron of the Dominican Order. The stigma of prostitute was removed from her in 1969. She had always been regarded by the people as a saint. Her Feast Day is July 22.
for a more complete account see Talks 1 and 2 http://www.annebaring.com/anbar54_grail.html
The Essene Teachings
Because these are obviously the source of the teaching of Jesus and the Nazarenes and later Gnostics, I have included some extracts from the Essene Teachings with this article.
In 1928 Edmond Bordeaux Szekely published the first volume of the Essene Gospel of Peace. The English version was published in 1937. He had found this ancient manuscript, written in Aramaic in the Secret Archives of the Vatican. Another copy exists in Old Slavonic in the Royal Library of the Hapsburgs in Vienna (now the property of the Austrian government). Books Two and Three, The Unknown Books of the Essenes and Lost Scrolls of The Essene Brotherhood were published fifty years after the first French translation of 1928. In 1981 Book Four, The Teachings of the Elect was published at his request two years after his death. www.essene.com
The exquisitely beautiful words of these four manuscripts, grounded in the images of Nature, bring to life the teachings of Jesus, some of them reappearing in the Gospels we know and in the first Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, Chapter 13. The Essenes were also known as Therapeutae or Healers. Their main centre in Palestine was at Qumrâm, at the head of the Dead Sea and was destroyed in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. In the first century AD they had many other communities, one as far away as Marseilles and their members numbered thousands. They originated in Egypt. Note the balanced emphasis in the Gospels on the Earth as Mother and the wonderful invocation of the Seven Holy Angels.
Book One: The Essene Gospel of Peace
Wherefore do I always greet you after this manner: “Peace be with you! Do you always, therefore, so greet one another, that upon your body may descend the peace of your Earthly Mother, and upon your spirit the peace of your Heavenly Father. And then you will find peace also among yourselves, for the kingdom of God is within you.”
Jesus teaches and heals the sick who have come to him asking to be healed of their afflictions. He teaches them the way to become healthy and to avoid disease.
Jesus is speaking: “Your Mother is in you and you in her. She bore you, she gives you life. It was she who gave to you your body, and to her shall you one day give it back again. Happy are you when you come to know her and her kingdom; if you receive your Mother’s angels and if you follow her laws. I tell you truly, he who does these things shall never see disease.”
“The blood which runs in us is born of the blood of our Earthly Mother. Her blood falls from the clouds; leaps from the womb of the earth; babbles in the brooks of the mountains; flows wide in the rivers of the plains; sleeps in the lakes; rages mightily in tempestuous seas.”
“The air which we breathe is born of the breath of our Earthly Mother. Her breath is azure in the heights of heaven; soughs in the tops of the mountains; whispers in the leaves of the forest; billows over the cornfields; slumbers in the deep valleys, burns hot in the desert.”
“The tenderness of our flesh is born of the flesh of our Earthly Mother; whose flesh waxes yellow and red in the fruits of the trees and nurtures us in the furrows of the fields.”
“The light of our eyes, the hearing of our ears, both are born of the colours and the sounds of our Earthly Mother; which enclose us about, as the waves of the sea a fish, as the eddying air a bird.”
I tell you in very truth, Man is the Son of the Earthly Mother, and from her did the Son of Man receive his whole body, even as the body of the newborn babe is born of the womb of his mother. I tell you truly, you are one with the Earthly Mother; she is in you, and you in her. Of her were you born, in her do you live, and to her shall you return again. Keep, therefore, her laws, for none can live long, neither be happy, but he who honours his Earthly Mother and does her laws. For your breath is her breath; your blood is her blood; your bone her bone; your flesh her flesh; your bowels her bowels; your eyes and your ears are her eyes and her ears.” (32)
Prayer to the Heavenly Father (the prayer we know today)
Prayer to the Earthly Mother, said after the Prayer to Heavenly Father:
“Our Mother which art upon Earth, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, and thy will be done in us, as it is in thee. As thou sendest every day thy angels, send them to us also. Forgive us our sins, as we atone all our sins against thee. And lead us not into sickness, but deliver us from all evil, for thine is the earth, the body, and the health. Amen” (518)
Note that there is no mention of the Earthly Mother in the Christian Gospels.
p. 172 almost identical words to those used by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians, 13.
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. Though I tell what is to come, and know all secrets and all wisdom; and though I have faith strong as the storm which lifts mountains from their seat, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and give all my fire that I have received from my Father, but have not love, I am in no wise profited. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not envious, works not evil, knows not pride; is not rude, neither selfish; is slow to anger, imagines no mischief; rejoices not in injustice, but delights in justice. Love defends all, love believes all, love hopes all, love bears all; never exhausts itself; but as for tongues they shall cease, and, as for knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we have truth in part, and error in part, but when the fullness of perfection is come, that which in part shall be blotted out.
When a man was a child he spoke as a child, understood as a child, thought as a child; but when he became a man he put away childish things. For now we see through a glass and through dark sayings. Now we know in part, but when we are come before the face of God, we shall not know in part, but even as we are taught by him. And now remain these three: faith and hope and love; but the greatest of these is love.”
It has the Parable of the Prodigal Son but much longer than in the Gospels.
“Thou shalt not kill”:
“It was said to them of old time, ‘Honour thy Heavenly Father and thy Earthly Mother, and do their commandments that thy days may be long upon the earth’. And next afterward was given this commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ for life is given to all by God, and that which God has given, let not man take away. For I tell you truly, from one Mother proceeds all that lives upon the earth. Therefore, he who kills, kills his brother.” (401)
Communion with the Angel of Love (one of the Seven Holy Angels)
“The Angel of Love, whose healing waters flow in a never-ending stream from the Sea of Eternity. Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of the Heavenly Father, and everyone that loveth is born of the Heavenly Order and knoweth the Angels. For without love, a man’s heart is parched and cracked as the bottom of a dry well, and his words are empty as a hollow gourd. But loving words are as a honeycomb sweet to the soul; loving words in a man’s mouth are as deep waters and the wellspring of love as a flowing brook.”
“Yea, it was said in the ancient of days, thou shalt love thy Heavenly Father with all thy heart and with all thy mind, and with all thy deeds, and thou shalt love thy brothers as thyself. The Heavenly Father is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in the Heavenly Father, and the Heavenly Father in him.” (255 & 262)
“As the sheaf of golden wheat lieth hidden within the tiny kernel, so is the kingdom of heaven hidden within our thoughts. It shines on all the creatures of the earth, and does not favour one blade of grass over another. And this love shall flow as a fountain from brother to brother, and as it is spent, so it shall be replenished. For love is eternal. Love is stronger than the currents of deep water. Love is stronger than death.” (357)
“Though heaven and earth may pass away,
Not one letter of the Holy Law
Shall change or pass away.
For in the beginning was the Law,
And the Law was with God,
And the Law was God.
May the Sevenfold Peace
Of the Heavenly Father
Be with thee always.” (430)
Book Three: The Lost Scrolls of the Essene Brotherhood
This is a long and very beautiful poetic invocation of the Seven Holy Angels, the Sun and the Moon and Stars, filled with images from the natural world. It contains the well-known passage from the Book of Proverbs and a prophecy of disaster befalling the Earth because the Law has been forgotten. It ends with the restoration of a new world.
Book Four: The Teachings of the Elect
An Elder speaking to the assembled Brothers who have been through a seven year preparation.
“But there will come a day when the Son of Man will turn his face from his Earthly Mother and betray her, even denying his Mother and his birthright. Then shall he sell her into slavery, and her flesh shall be ravaged, her blood polluted, and her breath smothered; he will bring the fire of death into all the parts of her kingdom, and his hunger will devour all her gifts and leave in their place only a desert.
“All these things he will do out of ignorance of the Law, and as a man dying slowly cannot smell his own stench, so will the Son of Man be blind to the truth: that as he plunders and ravages and destroys his Earthly Mother, so does he plunder and ravage and destroy himself. For he was born of his Earthly Mother, and he is one with her, and all that he does to his Mother even so does he do to himself.” (362)
“I tell you truly, the Book of Nature is a Holy Scroll, and if you would have the Sons of Men save themselves and find everlasting life, teach them how once again to read from the living pages of the Earthly Mother. For in everything that is life is the law written. It is written in the grass, in the trees, in rivers, mountains, birds of the sky and fishes of the sea; and most of all within the Son of Man. Only when he returns to the bosom of his Earthly Mother will he find everlasting life and the Stream of Life which leads to his Heavenly Father; only then may the dark vision of the future come not to pass.” (372)
“In our Heavenly Father’s realm there are many mansions, and many are the hidden things you cannot know of yet. I tell you truly, the kingdom of our Heavenly Father is vast, so vast that no man can know its limits, for there are none. Yet the whole of his kingdom may be found in the smallest drop of dew on a wild flower, or in the scent of newly-cut grass in the fields under the summer sun. Truly, there are no words to describe the kingdom of the Heavenly Father.” (383 and 392)
“I tell you truly, your body was made not only to breathe, and eat, and think, but it was also made to enter the Holy Stream of Life. And your ears were made not only to hear the words of men, the song of birds, and the music of falling rain, but they were also made to hear the Holy Stream of Sound. And your eyes were made not only to see the rising and setting sun, the ripple of sheaves of grain, and the words of the Holy Scrolls, but they were also made to see the Holy Stream of Light. One day your body will return to the Earthly Mother; even also your ears and your eyes. But the Holy Stream of Life, the Holy Stream of Sound, and the Holy Stream of Light, these were never born, and can never die. Enter the Holy Streams, even that Life, that Sound, and that Light which gave you birth; that you may reach the kingdom of the Heavenly Father and become one with him even as the river empties into the far-distant sea. More than this cannot be told, for the Holy Streams will take you to that place where words are no more, and even the Holy Scrolls cannot record the mysteries therein.” (432 and 443 (602, 614 as quoted in Book One)
This Book is possibly the most profound and complete of the Four. The description of the three Holy Streams of Life, Sound and Light are extraordinary. As they are long, I have not reproduced them here and have put in only the summary above.
I would urge everyone who has an interest in changing our attitude to the Earth, to read these beautiful books.